• Glenn Wilson
    Dr. Greger: Researchers have shown that a more plant-based diet may help prevent, treat, or reverse some of our leading causes of death, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure. Interventional studies of plant-based diets have shown, for example, 90 percent reductions in angina attacks within just a few weeks. Plant-based diet intervention groups have reported greater diet satisfaction than control groups, as well as improved digestion, increased energy, and better sleep, and significant improvement in their physical functioning, general health, vitality, and mental health. Studies have shown plant-based eating can improve not only body weight, blood sugar levels, and ability to control cholesterol, but also emotional states, including depression, anxiety, fatigue, sense of well-being, and daily functioning.

    Only one way of eating has ever been proven to reverse heart disease in the majority of patients: a diet centered around whole plant foods. If that’s all a whole-food, plant-based diet could do—reverse our number-one killer—shouldn’t that be the default diet until proven otherwise? The fact it may also be effective in preventing, treating, and arresting other leading killers seems to make the case for plant-based eating simply overwhelming.

    More at the NutritionFacts topic page: Plant-based Diets.

    The cardiovascular benefits of plant-based diets may be severely undermined by vitamin B12 deficiency.

    Dr. Greger: This is not the only study to look at the arterial walls of those eating plant-based diets. This new study from China, for example, found that compared to omnivores, those that ate egg-free and meat-free diets had all the typical benefits of eating more plant-based: lower body mass index, blood pressure, triglycerides, total cholesterol, bad cholesterol; fewer free radicals; maybe better kidney function, better blood sugar control, etc. But, does all that translate to actual differences in their arteries? Yes. Indeed, the omnivores had comparatively thickened arterial linings—all of which suggests about a tripling in the probability of developing cardiovascular disease. They therefore “recommend that more vegetables should be eaten instead of meat,” and it’s “never too late” to improve one’s diet.

    Having said that, if those on plant-based diets don’t get enough vitamin B12, levels of an artery-damaging compound called homocysteine can start to rise in the bloodstream, and may counteract some of the benefits of eating healthy. In this study from Taiwan, the arteries of vegetarians were just as stiff as those of the omnivores, and they had the same level of thickening in their carotid arteries—perhaps because of the elevated homocysteine levels in their blood.

    “The negative findings of these studies should not be considered as evidence of neutral cardiovascular effects of vegetarianism, but do indicate an urgent need for modification of vegan diets through vitamin B12 fortification or supplements.” “[V]itamin B12 deficiency is a very serious problem, leading ultimately to anemia, neuropsychiatric disorders, irreversible nerve damage,” and these high levels of artery-damaging homocysteine in the blood. “Prudent vegans should include sources of vitamin B12 in their diets.”

    Continue at NutritionFacts: Vitamin B12 Necessary for Arterial Health.

    Maybe you prefer to read the transcript instead of watching this video? To see the full transcript or links to cited sources go to the link above, then scroll below the video and click on View Transcript or Sources Cited.

    The results of vitamin B12 deficiency can be devastating. Learn more in our easy-to-understand videos on the latest research.

    Vitamin B12 is not made by plants or animals but by microbes that blanket the earth. In today’s sanitized, modern world, the water supply is commonly chlorinated to kill off any bacteria. So, while we don’t get much B12 in the water anymore, we don’t get much cholera, either, which is a good thing!

    A regular, reliable source of vitamin B12 is critical for anyone eating a plant-based diet. Though deficiency for those starting out with adequate stores may take years to develop, the results of B12 deficiency can be devastating, with cases reported of paralysis, psychosis, blindness, and even death. Newborn infants of mothers who eat a plant-based diet and who fail to supplement may develop deficiency much more rapidly with disastrous results. Getting enough vitamin B12 is absolutely nonnegotiable for those centering their diets around plant-based foods.
    Vitamin B12.

    More in the category Health and Medical.

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